Abortion rights supporters file signatures to get amendment to Ohio voters in November
Groups that support reproductive rights submitted more than 700,000 signatures to put an amendment guaranteeing access to abortion in Ohio before voters in November. That's 70% more than they need to make the ballot.
Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights backed up a U-Haul at the Secretary of State’s office on Wednesday to turn in their petitions. That group includes activists from abortion rights organizations, physicians, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, Democratic groups and labor unions. They've have been working since March to reach the goal of 414,000 signatures. Far more than that were submitted to ensure enough valid signatures were gathered. The groups did preliminary validation of signatures when they collected petitions last weekend.
The total number of signatures submitted is 710,131, but it's not a record. In 2011, opponents of a law that made major changes in collective bargaining for police officers, teachers and other public employees filed 1.3 million signatures to repeal it. That law, known as Senate Bill 5, was overwhelmingly overturned by voters that year.
But before the vote on their issue in November, the coalition is battling an amendment on the August special election ballot that would make it harder to pass future amendments. Issue 1 would raise the threshold for passage from a simple majority to 60%. And if voters pass that August amendment, it would also make it harder to pass all constitutional amendments going forward by also requiring changes in the petition gathering rules beginning in 2024.
Opponents of the abortion rights amendment were ready with their response, which zeroes in on language in the amendment that they say attacks parental rights in abortion and gender transition, though the amendment doesn't address parents’ rights regarding those issues.
Protect Women Ohio issued a statement that reads in part:
“The ACLU’s extreme anti-parent amendment is so unpopular that it couldn’t even rely on grassroots support to collect signatures. The ACLU paid out-of-state signature collectors to lie to Ohioans about its dangerous amendment that will strip parents of their rights, permit minors to undergo sex change operations without their parents’ knowledge or consent, and allow painful abortion on demand through all nine months. The ACLU’s attempts to hijack Ohio’s constitution to further its own radical agenda would be pathetic if they weren’t so dangerous.”
This story will be updated.